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Tunsil hacker faces potential criminal, civil liability


Largely lost in last night’s Laremy Tunsil limbo was the fact that someone violated his privacy and, in turn, broke the law.

As explained by Jason Lisk of, whoever hacked Tunsil’s Twitter account and posted video of Tunsil smoking marijuana with a gas mask and a bong faces up to five years in prison under the Stored Communications Act, if “the offense is committed for purposes of commercial advantage, malicious destruction or damage, or private commercial gain.”

As best we can tell, if the person who invaded Tunsil’s Twitter account also hacked his Instagram account, the second violation ups the ante to a punishment of up to 10 years.

Even without an improper purpose, the potential sanction consists of not more than one year for a first offense and up to five years for a second offense.

The improper purpose apparently need not actually result in harm. As written, the statute refers only to purpose not effect. And common sense suggests that whoever was getting into Tunsil’s social media account(s) wanted to harm his draft stock.

Deadspin notes that someone had been trying to sell the Tunsil video for weeks. Whoever had the video either knew or guessed Tunsil’s password, hacked his Twitter account, and in turn broke the law.

Getting in may have been easy. Covering it up could be impossible. Here’s hoping that the relevant federal officials quickly swoop in to investigate. If the hack committed in Major League Baseball justified the devotion of federal resources last year, the misconduct directed at Tunsil merits a similar response.

Tunsil also should be ready to pursue civil liability. However, the person who did it quite possibly doesn’t have the resources to even begin to compensate Tunsil for the damages resulting from however many spots he fell due to the hacking.